5 Tips Your Realtor May Not Tell You About Selling a Home

5 Tips Your Realtor May Not Tell You About Selling a Home

Stone Exteriors Stone Fireplace

Remember when you were little and had your first tooth pulled? Probably your mom or dad told you that the dentist would make it painless with Novocain. Then you saw the unexpected needle coming and discovered novo-pain.

Daily life is full of surprises that arise because someone fails to tell us something. Thunderbolts of bewilderment may even strike when you are in the process of selling your home, because your realtor fails to share the following tips.

Ask for a Short Contract

One reason why people say “locked in” when forming a contract with a realtor is because it can feel like you are serving time if the relationship sours. This may happen, for example, if your property stays on the market so long you must lower the sale price.

You may begin to doubt whether the realtor priced your property correctly or is doing enough to market it.

Consequently, when your realtor suggests a contract of six months or longer, be brave. Ask for something shorter, such as a standard minimum of 90 days. In tight markets favoring sellers, you may want to ask for even less.

Help Write Your Listing

You know your home and neighborhood best. You may also know how to write better than your realtor. So, offer to help compose or proofread the real estate listing for your home’s sale. This probably isn’t something your realtor would emphasize, but you can put the extra touches on it that your realtor just may not be able to.

Expect Unexpected Costs

No realtor can predict all the costs that will arise when selling your home, such as a bathtub refinishing job that leads to a subcontractor’s pitch for a far more expensive bathroom remodel or any of the hundreds of things that could come up in a home inspection.

Work together with your realtor to estimate how much you can afford to spend on these unexpected costs prior to listing. The budget will depend on a break-even calculation. Beware of anyone who suggests you can break even based on a sale price that meets your equity. To avoid being in the red, the sale price also should cover home improvement expenditures and myriad closing costs.

Invest in Stone Veneer Versus a Bathroom

Now to get back to the bathroom makeover: It’s true that buyers are attracted to homes with new bathrooms. Yet that improvement may not provide the greatest value versus investment.

It’s your wallet, so pay attention to payback. One valuable tool is Remodel magazine’s annual Cost Vs Value Report, which provides statistics about what you can expect to gain financially from investment in a wide range of remodeling projects.

The report divides the nation into regions. Illinois is part of the East North Central Region where payback for a bathroom remodel this year is 57% of cost. In contrast, the addition of stone siding returns 79%. 79%!!!! That’s pretty awesome. We’re a little biased, but we think you should consider updating your fireplace or your home exterior over your bathroom.

Stone veneer exterior siding options are lighter weight than full stone construction yet provide the same distinguished look. Mom was right — first impressions matter.

Don’t Nap Before a Showing

One thing nobody ever tells you is how intensely exhausting it can be to sell a home, which must shine for showing at all times.

Aside from tiring of 24/7 cleaning, you may feel overwhelmed by constantly packing up all evidence of habitation, including your cranky toddler and pets.

Your realtor probably never warned you it is a big, big mistake to set your alarm clock and lay down for a quick catnap even two hours before a showing. You may wake up to strangers who discover you, the baby and Fido snoozing on the couch. No sale!

Think About Staying Put

Once your stone exterior is in place and you’ve further indulged in the kind of equally distinguished stone fireplace renovation Chicago homes deserve, you may want to drop the idea of selling and take a nap without interruptions.

In all seriousness, selling a home can be very stressful. Making sure you’ve taken the time to do your homework, and have an open line of communication with your realtor can really benefit you in the long term. If you’re in the process of getting your home ready to sell, and are looking at making some quick updates that will increase your home’s value, consider adding stone veneer to your home’s exterior or updating your fireplace. That 79% return on updating your siding with stone veneer can really pay off.

If you need an estimate for your stone siding, we’re here for you! Give us a call or send us a message here. And did we mention we’re fast? We can update a fireplace in as little as 2 days! If you’re in a hurry to sell, and still want to make some quick updates to your home’s siding or fireplace, we can work with you to get it done quickly- and beautifully. Our stone helps homes sell!

10 Ways To Give Your Home Some Curb Appeal

10 Ways To Give Your Home Some Curb Appeal

Stone Exterior Siding Stone Exteriors Stone Veneer

Strolling daily in your neighborhood you may begin noticing improvements that friends and neighbors are making to their homes, including:

  • Repainting house trim
  • Cleaning brick or siding
  • Reroofing due to damaged shingles
  • Repairing or replacing driveways
  • Changing the landscaping in significant ways and
  • Just generally tidying the front yard by mowing, sweeping, trimming trees and bushes, and filling planters with colorful flowers.

As you gradually absorb all this change and note what you like, you may begin to wonder about the curb appeal of your own home. What can you do to make it look better even if you don’t plan on selling anytime soon?

10 Home Makeover Ideas

When you start thinking about improving street appeal, your improvement list may become long. You can avoid feeling overwhelmed by making one change at a time. Here are some suggestions.

1. Photograph your front façade and yard. Analyze what is strong and what needs improvement. Apply a critical eye to tidiness, features obviously needing upkeep or replacement, paint color and possibilities for improvement with new landscaping and hardscaping.

2. Power wash your house but be careful about damaging brick and mortar. High-pressure spraying of a home’s façade makes it sparkle by removing dirt, mildew and moss. High-pressure cleaning is best left to a professional who knows how to avoid moisture damage. But lightly spraying your house with a garden hose before scrubbing off debris may do the trick and is probably best for brick siding. Pressure cleaning can decay mortar and old brick.

3. Clean and repair gutters. Sagging gutters with broken bands and loose downspouts look forlorn. Regular cleanout of leaves and other debris avoids this problem. If you plan to attach a downspout to a rain barrel in the front yard, one topped with a planter may be the best choice.

4. Reroof if necessary. Are shingles coming loose or looking worn, and is the roof visible from the street? Roof damage not only puts the interior of your house at risk but also signals viewers that you aren’t keeping up your property. Spot repairs sometimes are sufficient, but it may be time for a new roof.

5. Decide whether new paint is necessary and what colors would be best. Repainting trim and siding makes a home sparkle. While out walking, look for color combinations that fit your neighborhood and appeal to you. Sometimes just repainting a front door with a stand-out color and adding large, shiny address numbers may be enough to give your home a new look.

6. Improve yard maintenance, including trimming trees, weeding and mowing. A neglected landscape makes viewers think the interior of a home may also need significant repair.

7. Re-landscape. Even if you’re great about maintenance, a boring landscape makes a home look blah. If you can’t afford a landscaper, creative websites may help with planning. Try eGardenGo for suggestions about plant combinations and Paper Garden Workshop for planning tools, including “doodle sheets.”

8. Build a berm or a raised bed with a stone veneer wall. Berms add shape and texture to yards. So do exterior siding options such as a stone fireplace or stone exterior retaining wall.

9. Repair or replace your driveway. Repairing driveway cracks, potholes and heaving adds polish to a home and communicates that you value it.

10. Add exterior stone siding for an upscale, rustic look. According to Remodeling’s 2017 Cost Vs Value Report, stone veneer is one of the top home improvement choices for recouping cost when selling.

The Wow Look

As you plan ways to make your home look sharp and sweet, keep in mind that what looks “wow” in one community may elicit “whoa!” elsewhere. Remodeling magazine seems to indicate that homeowners nationwide think stone looks stylish. Please contact us at North Star Stone for information about how we add wow to homes.

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10 Things to Look for In a Contractor When Remodeling

10 Things to Look for In a Contractor When Remodeling

Stone Exteriors Stone Fireplaces Stone Veneer

Saving money for a home remodeling takes time and requires restraint in spending. So, when you get ready to launch your project, you don’t want it to turn into a remuddling due to selecting the wrong professionals to guide the work.

Depending on the size and complexity of the project, you may need to begin with an architect who not only can design the project but also provide referrals to reliable contractors.

How to select an architect is a topic for another day. What we’re suggesting here is that you’ll be happier with a remodeling if you ask yourself key questions about what to look for in a contractor and interview at least three before hiring. 

What a Contractor Does

Contractors generally aren’t designer although construction companies may have in-house designers. Instead, your contractor is the overall supervisors for your project. Their duties include:

  • Selecting sub-contractors, such as carpenters, electricians and plumbers
  • Overseeing all aspects of construction
  • Maintaining the work schedule you have approved
  • Handling payouts for materials and labor
  • Being responsible for meeting deadlines and
  • Ensuring that worksites are safe and tidy at the end of the day (especially important if you continue to live in the house during construction).

You may decide that you also want your architect to provide project management (an extra fee beyond design) aimed at making sure work proceeds correctly based on the design and materials specified in the design plans.

10 Key Questions to Consider

Here are some important issues to think about before selecting a contractor.

1. Are you hiring the contractor to be a designer as well as a project supervisor? If so, research the contractor’s design credentials and experience.

2. Do you have friends, neighbors or coworkers who can recommend contractors? Praise from someone you trust is valuable. Ask them specific questions about what went right or wrong with their projects. Negative feedback may help you to avoid hiring the wrong person or construction company.   

3. If you are relying on online recommendations, how trustworthy are these testimonials? Consider whether you or someone you know has found reliable help for other projects through these sources.

4. If an architect has designed your project, does the architect recommend any of your favored contractors? A contractor your designer respects is likely to be one on whom you can rely.

5. Does a contractor have a reputation for meeting deadlines and keeping the worksite safe?  This is a question to ask whoever provides referrals.

6. Is the contractor bonded, licensed and known for providing a well-detailed contract? Once again, ask those who provide referrals and then verify with the contractor. Also, insist on a detailed contract.

7. During the interview process, does a contractor answer your questions in an authoritative (not authoritarian) way? Your contractor should be able to answer your questions without forcing opinions on you.

8. Is a contractor able to provide referrals from former customers? If not, check the contractor off your list.

9. Is a contractor comfortable knowing that you will be interviewing others as well? If a contractor is experienced and knowledgeable, he or she will also be confident enough to accept competition.

10. Does a contractor have experience specific to your project, such as stone veneer work? A stone veneer contractor in the Chicago metro area will have experience with these kinds of projects:

The “Click Factor”

Finally, after each contractor interview, there is a certain gut-feeling factor to consider. You have to ask yourself how comfortable you were. Did the two of you “click” by communicating well? Do you think the contractor understands your project needs and can fulfill them?

Interviewing shouldn’t be rushed. You need to be patient and so does each interviewee. A prospective contractor who is willing to answer all your questions so you can make a well-informed decision is one who is likely to be a good communicator during construction.

North Star Stone is proud to say we meet all of these qualifications as a stone veneer contractor. We value our customers, their homes and their business and are always happy to explain the process and answer any questions you have. If you have questions you’d like to ask about stone veneer design for your stone fireplace or exterior stone siding, call us at (847) 996-6850 or contact us here and get a FREE estimate.

Considering Siding Options For Your Home? Here’s Why Stone Veneer is a Great Choice for A Home’s Exterior Siding

Considering Siding Options For Your Home? Here’s Why Stone Veneer is a Great Choice for A Home’s Exterior Siding

Home Improvements Stone Exterior Siding Stone Exteriors Stone Veneer

When it’s time to improve the outside of your home, stone veneer siding may be one of the best exterior siding options available. Thinner and lighter than natural stone, it is easier to install and less stressful for your home’s structure. It’s also less expensive than real stone, doesn’t disrupt the environment through quarrying, and is recyclable too!

Quality stone exterior siding that is correctly installed, offers many other advantages, including excellent payback, distinguished appearance, a wide range of natural colors and low to no maintenance.

Also, it’s a sturdy solution to solve the problem many homeowners face when renovating the exteriors of homes constructed with lightweight Dryvit siding — a foam product with a faux stucco-like veneer that is vulnerable to moisture and woodpecker damage- amongst other issues. After the Dryvit is removed, these homes can support a manufactured stone veneer that offers a safe, beautiful and long lasting exterior home siding.

READ MORE ABOUT THE DANGERS OF DRYVIT AND WHAT TO DO IF YOUR HOME WAS CONSTRUCTED WITH DRYVIT

Stone Veneer vs. Stone

Stone veneer is made of Portland cement, aggregate and natural pigments (for stone color). Mixed together, we then pour the mixture into casts designed to provide the look and texture of real stone.

Unlike natural stone, which is typically extremely thick and heavy, stone veneer siding may range from slightly less than 2 inches to about 3 inches thick depending on the texture applied to the stone veneer. Natural stone often requires a brick ledge for installation. Windows also often need to be reset due to the change in depth of the siding. Both necessities slow project completion and make it much more expensive than using thin stone veneer on a home’s exterior. Being heavier, natural stone is also more expensive to deliver/ship to job sites.

Overall, installation of stone veneer per square foot often costs about one-third to one-half less than that of natural stone! That’s a big difference!

Get A Free Estimate For Your Home’s Stone Veneer Siding

Payback: Cost Vs. Value Report

Nationwide, stone veneer for exterior home siding has been one of the best home improvement choices for money spent, according to Remodeling Magazine.

For three years running, the magazine’s annual Cost Vs. Value Report has placed stone veneer close to the top of its list for payback value. According to Remodeling Magazine, the only items that have exceed payback value in 2016, other than stone veneer, are fiberglass attic insulation and installation of a steel front door.

The magazine’s data indicates that in the East-North Central Region (which includes Illinois) the payback on manufactured stone veneer siding is second to attic insulation. That’s a good sign for home owners looking to update their home’s exterior with stone! If you’re planning to sell soon, your stone veneer can add real value to your home!

Distinguished Natural Look

A rustic stone look increases the curb appeal and value of a home. It is extremely difficult- if not, impossible, to differentiate between manufactured and natural stone. Our stone looks just like real stone!

Customers select the natural colors and textures they want in their stone veneer siding. This makes it super easy to match other design aspects of a home. It’s easy to match or blend in new stone veneer with existing stone, siding and even landscaping. If you’re looking to use real stone, shortages can occur in the natural stone market and make it difficult to meet preferences and match an existing stone. With stone veneer, you can match the color and most often, the styles of existing stone. Stone veneer will not only save you money, it can also save you time! No more searching through endless places on line and in person to try to match stone!

Low Maintenance & Safety

Maintenance of stone veneer primarily involves hosing it down occasionally. Yep- that’s about it! Painting touch-ups aren’t necessary with stone veneer.

Even Hardie Board — a product our customers and builders often combine with stone veneer to create a beautiful home siding option — doesn’t require repainting. Hardie Board is a fire-resistant material made to look like wood but comprised mainly of sand and cement.

LEARN MORE ABOUT USING STONE VENEER AND HARDIE BOARD ON YOUR HOME’S EXTERIOR

Installation

Professional installation ensures that proper construction techniques are used to avoid moisture from getting behind siding and causing structural damage, If you choose to install the stone veneer yourself, we’re happy to provide installation instructions and answer any questions you have. If you prefer professional installation and are in the Chicagoland area, we have some very talented masons who will work diligently to make your home’s exterior shine.

Stone veneer, no matter what color or style you choose, is a perfect choice for updating your home’s exterior. With the many colors and styles North Star Stone offers to choose from, choosing stone veneer will help your home stand out as one of the best homes on the block!

Want to see some examples of the stone veneer that North Star Stone creates? Stop by our Libertyville, Illinois showroom. Call us today at (847) 996-6850 to schedule an appointment! *Please note- our showroom is open by appointment only.

Living In Your Home During A Renovation Project: How To Survive With Your Sanity

Living In Your Home During A Renovation Project: How To Survive With Your Sanity

Uncategorized

Even renovation of a single room in your home or changes to the building’s exterior façade — such as installing stone veneer — may disrupt daily life for weeks or months. This is especially true if you choose to live at home during the project.

Remodeling can be noisy, dusty and intrusive no matter how well you and your contractor seal off rooms and set boundaries. It can also be hazardous, particularly if the remodeling crew doesn’t tidy up properly at the end of each day.

However, there are major benefits to being on-site during remodeling, including:

Being around daily to monitor project progress and site cleanup

Avoiding construction delays by being more available to answer contractor questions and

Saving money on alternative housing and restaurant dining.

Aside from those, sometimes moving out to a hotel or temporary home just isn’t an option, and can be extremely difficult, especially if you have children and pets! Here are some tips for living at home safely and sanely during renovation:

Setting Construction Schedule & Boundaries

Aside from setting start and completion dates in the project contract, you need to set a daily schedule identifying when construction workers will be on the premises.

The contract should also specify boundaries within which workers may be present. Furthermore, safety requires that children stay out of the work area, so you need to explain and stress boundaries. Children in particular could have a hard time enduring a renovation, so explaining to them how things work, where they can or cannot be, and how to protect themselves is very important. That in mind, it can be a fun thing for kids to switch things up a little during a home renovation project- dinner in the bedroom or taking baths in the sink are probably going to be more fun for them than the adults! 🙂

Isolating the Work Area & Protecting HVAC

The work area needs to be separated from living areas with heavy plastic sheeting hung in doorways and plastic wall systems. You also need to limit access to your home’s heating, ventilating and air conditioning system during construction. This includes covering or closing air supply and return registers.

A small renovation, such as installation of a stone fireplace surround, may take less than a week to finish. Yet minimizing ambient stone dust during that time is important and may even require air scrubber equipment if you have asthmatics in your family. Here is a detailed explanation about controlling stone veneer dust. (Take a look at our article on controlling dust here!)

Clearing & Protecting the Project Area

Before construction begins, remove objects from the work area including art and decorations, carpets, drapery, floor rugs and furniture. Cover floors and walls — and any furniture too unwieldy to remove — with drop cloths and other sturdy materials. This process makes final cleanup easier and protects against a hidden buildup of dust that could migrate through your home’s HVAC system following project completion.

Maintaining a Temporary Kitchen

If your kitchen is part of the renovation project or is open to the work area, clear it of food and appliances. Then you’ll need a temporary kitchen area, such as a utility room, with a sink, coffee maker and microwave oven. There are also some great, inexpensive products you can buy and use to help make life a little easier- hot plates and electric griddles are AMAZING for kitchen renovations! And don’t forget to stock up on paper plates and silverware. Washing dishes in the bathroom can get pretty old, pretty quickly. As much as paper plates and plastic silverware aren’t great for the environment, they sure can help you maintain your sanity.

Wearing Protective Footwear

Finally, wearing shoes (not flip flops) when walking anywhere in or outside your home is crucial during remodeling. Dust isn’t the only thing that migrates. Nails or shards of other materials can accidentally slip past barriers or land on grass and driveways during a remodeling.

Protecting Pets During A Renovation

Your pets are some of the more at risk creatures in the home during a renovation project. Make sure your contractor is aware that you have pets, and depending on the kind of pets you have and their personality and needs, you may have to take special precautions. Some contractors (like us!) love animals, but others (or their laborers) may not be as comfortable with animals. Make sure your pets have a safe place to be in the home during the construction.

Talk with your contractor to know if there will be days when there is going to be significant noise. Those days you may want to consider sending your pet to a neighbor or friend, or boarding your pet for the day. Construction noise can be really stressful for pets! Make sure you are cautious of where your pets go in the home during the reno- their paws are subject to nails and glass/wood shards to!

Choosing a Safety-Minded Contractor

Choosing a contractor known for work-site safety is one of the most important steps to take in preparing to live in your home during remodeling. For projects involving fireplace design and exterior stone veneer work, please contact North Star Stone for top attention to detail.

Source

http://www.safewise.com/blog/how-to-safely-live-in-your-house-during-a-major-renovation/

https://www.bobvila.com/articles/416-live-in-or-move-out-the-remodeling-dilemma/

What’s New Is Old: Fireplaces and Stone Veneer History

What’s New Is Old: Fireplaces and Stone Veneer History

Stone Colors Stone Fireplace Stone Fireplaces Stone Interior Stone Veneer

Today’s thin cut stone veneer looks like the real thing.  However, it is manufactured from concrete, a combination of Portland cement and aggregate molded in rubber casts that capture the texture of real stone. Ground pigments provide its natural looking colors.

Lightweight fireplace stone veneer weighs far less than real stone, so it’s possible to construct rustic, historical looking surrounds that may even reach from floor to ceiling. It is a modern miracle that can give homes a historical look.

But dig deep enough into the past, and you discover that what seems new started in ancient times.

Ancient Synthetic Basalt

Many articles have commented on the strange trifecta of chance that an archeologist with the last name of “Stone” representing the State University of New York at Stony Brook, discovered the first evidence of artificial stone.

In 1998, The New York Times reported that Dr. Elizabeth C. Stone had identified slabs found a decade earlier in southern Iraq as being artificial basalt. Her team uncovered the find in the ruins of Mashkan-shapir, a Mesopotamian city that existed 4,000 years ago and had no basalt quarries.

Although real stone was scarce, basaltic river silt was plentiful in the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Dr. Stone theorizes that artisans melted the silt to create material for construction and stones used in grinding grain.

Historical Uses of Stone Veneer

Concrete was an invention of the Roman Empire. The ancient conquerors used it as the underlying structural material supporting more attractive brick and stone veneers in buildings such as the Coliseum. The art of making concrete disappeared at the fall of the Roman Empire after 400 AD.

About 1,300 years later, a British engineer devised a new formula. Thin stone veneer construction with real, hand-tooled stone reappeared in the late 19th century.

By the early 20th century, most natural stone veneer work was limited to building interiors, but the exterior of the Empire State Building is an example of heavy limestone veneer over brick and steel.

Arrival of Manufactured Thin Veneer

Natural stone veneer is about four times the weight of thin veneer product. This makes it more difficult to support on walls and more expensive to ship and to purchase.

RELATED: Control Dust & Dirt During A Home Remodeling Project

In contrast, today’s concrete stone fireplace veneer is affordable and supportable for many kinds of construction projects from commercial to residential.

Thin veneer manufactured stones vary in thickness from about 1 to 3 inches depending on the stone on which they are styled. They have become increasingly durable and realistic looking since introduction in the early 1960s.

The color of some manufactured thin veneer may fade faster than others due to being spray painted with pigment. However, at North Star Stone, we infuse the pigment during the curing process so it permeates the stones and looks natural.

North Star also hand assembles fireplace walls and smaller surrounds to avoid repetitive patterns. We strive for the highest craftsmanship while also making a luxurious look affordable.

For more information about the many kinds of fireplace veneer and designs available for your project, please contact us at North Star Stone. Let’s make it an important moment in the history of your home.

How to Control Dust During Indoor Stone Veneer Fireplace Remodeling

How to Control Dust During Indoor Stone Veneer Fireplace Remodeling

Stone Fireplace Stone Fireplaces Stone Veneer

When plentiful, dust can make anyone sneeze and cover mouth and nose to avoid inhaling it. Construction sites are well known for powdery particulate. Architects and builders often refer to clients who stay in their homes during a remodeling project as “living in the dust.”

But home during indoor remodeling, such as construction of a stone veneer fireplace surround, there are several ways to control dust. This is especially important if family members have asthma.

Here are some practical measures you can handle or negotiate with your contractor to minimize construction dust.

Create Dust Barriers & Isolate Work Area

The first step in limiting the spread of construction dust is to erect clear, plastic dust barriers closing off openings from the work area to other parts of the house. This task may be as simple as hanging heavy mil plastic sheeting over doors or separating spaces with plastic wall systems, such as ZipWalls.

If there is furniture in the work space that can’t be moved elsewhere, it should also be covered to avoid dust from polluting upholstery.

Furthermore, isolating a stone fireplace work area includes moving any sawing outdoors if weather allows. It also requires delivering building materials to the remodeling space via a route that minimizes spreading dust to other parts of the home.

Construction dust clings to work clothing, so another wise step is to ask your contractor to limit worker access to other parts of your home.

Cover Walls, Flooring & Furniture

Next, you need to make sure your floors in the remodeling area — whether carpeted or bare — are covered wall to wall with rosin paper (a recyclable paper building product), thick plastic or drop cloths. Final cleanup will be much easier if walls in the remodeling area are covered floor to ceiling.

Prepping Your HVAC System

Not all homes have forced-air heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, but if yours does, precautions during construction projects include limiting the amount of dust that gets into ducts.

If your project occurs when temperatures are moderate, it’s a good idea to shut down your HVAC system for a few days during the stone veneer fireplace remodel. This includes closing or covering the work area’s air supply and return registers in the walls and floor. However, workers still need air circulation, so open a window for fresh air.

Stone veneer fireplace projects generally take less than a week to complete. During winter installation, it may be best to keep the HVAC running even if you aren’t staying at home. It keeps the house warm for your return and helps any moist construction materials, such as grout, to dry more quickly.

In cold weather, the registers in the work area can be closed, and the contractor can bring in a portable electric heater. Or the register grills can be partially closed and covered with high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) furnace filters. To further capture any fine dust in ducts on return flow, install a HEPA filter in place of your regular furnace filter.

Capture Dust with HEPA Air Scrubbers

At any time of year, a portable HEPA air scrubber may be the best solution for keeping indoor construction dust from drifting through your house. It also captures any gases and airborne chemicals released by construction materials.

No ducting is attached to the air scrubber, which is placed in the center of the work space. It sucks in dirty air, then releases clean air. This is particularly important in older homes that may contain asbestos or lead in old construction materials removed during stone veneer remodeling.

HEPA air scrubbers contain a series of filters. The first stage of filtration is handled by a pre-filter that absorbs larger particles. Frequent replacement of the pre-filter protects the efficiency of the primary filter. If you add a carbon filter, it can absorb smelly gases and vapors.

As the Proud Green Home website notes, HEPA air scrubbers “meet standards that remove 99.97% of airborne particles down to the size of 0.3 microns.” A micron is a millionth of a meter or about .00004 inches wide. Due to their filtering power, air scrubbers are expensive. Yet home improvement stores make access to them more affordable through rental.

Specify & Share Cleanup

At the end of each work day, contractors for any indoor construction project should minimally vacuum up dust. (Sweeping with a broom sends much of the dust flying.) Then careful removal and disposal of floor and wall coverings, as well as dust barriers, follows at the end of the project.

The next step, generally handled by the homeowner or a house cleaner you hire, is to damp mop walls and hard flooring and deep vacuum carpeting. Finally, to avoid circulating any construction dust that remains in your home, continue to use a HEPA filter for your furnace for about two weeks, changing the filter at least three times.

Seek More Information

For any questions you may have about stone veneer fireplaces, please contact us at North Star Stone. You’ll also find answers to frequently asked questions at our website. We want to help you and your family breathe easy about home improvement.

In the meantime, check out our stone veneer fireplace galleries for some great ideas and see how other families updated their fireplaces with North Star Stone veneer.

Sources:

http://www .hou zz.co m/ideabooks/46866556/list/what-to-know-about-controlling-dust-during-remodeling

https://www .angieslist.com/articles/8-ways-protect-your-hvac-during-remodeling.htm

http://buildc lean.com/images/Best-Practices.pdf

http://www.aconco  rdcarpenter.com/how-to-protect-vents-from-remodeling-dust.html

http://www6 .hom edepot.com/tool-truck-rental/Hepa_Air_Scrubber_with_Filters/F284/

http://www.jondo n.com/flood-restoration/air-scrubber

https://www.drie az.c om/Uploads/DECA/GTAS.pdf

http://www.bacteria- world.co m/how-big-micron.htm

http://answers.angi eslist.com/Do-contractors-typically-clean-remove-dust-installing-drywall-skim-coating-walls-q54293.aspx

 

 

Best Flooring Options for Your Fireplace Hearth

Best Flooring Options for Your Fireplace Hearth

Stone Fireplaces Stone Veneer

Whether you already have a stone fireplace/stone fireplaces in your home or you’re planning to have one installed, you need to consider the flooring for your fireplace hearth. The hearth of the fireplace begins with the floor of the fireplace and extends into the living area in front of the fireplace itself, plus the fireplace surround. The hearth is the area where you would keep your extra wood and kindling, and any other accessories you have to build and maintain your fire.

 

Fireplace Hearth

What Are the Safety Concerns With a Fireplace Hearth?

Since the fireplace hearth is directly in front of the fireplace and surround, you need to be careful about safety hazards that can happen on or near the hearth area. No matter how safety conscious or careful you are, accidents happen to the best of us. Some of the safety concerns that you should be aware of with your fireplace hearth are:

Sparks and Embers

Sparks and embers from the fire can fly out unexpectedly from a fire. Although it’s more common from fires with wood that is partially wet, these sparks can happen with any fire. It has very little to do with the skill of the person who built the fire, so sparks are almost uncontrollable.

Fireplace Hearth
If these sparks land on carpet or other textiles, however, there is a danger that damage or an unplanned fire can occur. A spark can land on the carpet or textile, smolder, and then build into a dangerous fire hazard.

Tripping and Falling

Some fireplace hearths cause another kind of home safety hazard, and that is the danger of tripping and falling. If you have a hearth that is raised above the natural level of the room’s flooring, the sudden change in elevation can cause visitors in the home to trip or fall, because they are unaware of the step up. Homes with small children face a similar problem, as youngsters tend not to be as aware of uneven flooring as adults.

Why Hearths Make a Home Safer

In most cases, though, the hearth makes the home safer. Hearths provide a natural area around the front of the fireplace and surround that signals to the residents and visitors that the fireplace is there. The hearth truly is the heart of the home, and having a custom stone fireplace and hearth is one of the most satisfying ways to make your home cozy and warm for your family, friends and guests.

What are the Best Flooring Options for a Stone Fireplace Hearth?

There are certain flooring options that help to make a fireplace hearth safe, beautiful and functional. These are all qualities that will work to bring value and style to your home. You obviously want to make your hearth safe, but you also want the hearth area to complement your home’s décor. Of course, the hearth also needs to perform the function that it’s intended for.

 

Fireplace Hearth

Slate

Slate tile is a natural flooring solution that goes with just about any living area flooring. Slate is a natural type of thin rock that lends itself well to home décor. It does not burn or singe easily, and can withstand extreme wear and tear. It’s available in a wide variety of colors and patterns.

Concrete
Concrete is a fantastic hearth flooring solution for those who are eco-minded. Concrete hearth flooring is safe and protective for any potential sparks coming from the fireplace, as well as offering a decorative flooring option.

Stone Veneer/Manufactured Stone
For the discerning homeowner who wants a natural look, there is perhaps no better choice than manufactured stone or stone veneer for the hearth. Stone Veneer is beautiful, functional, safe and affordable for the fireplace hearth.

Brick

Brick can also serve as a fireplace hearth. They also will prevent accidents from happening around the fireplace, but brick may not suit every home décor due to the lack of color options.

Whichever kind of flooring options you choose for your fireplace surround, be sure to consider all the issues mentioned above to ensure a lifetime of satisfaction. Learn more about our stone veneer and take a look at our stone fireplace galleries and see how we use stone veneer to make fireplaces beautiful.

Get What You Pay For!

Get What You Pay For!

Inspiration Stone Colors Stone Fireplace Stone Veneer

You know that expression you get what you pay for?  It’s true. 

 

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Once our customers find out that we custom color every batch of stone to their specifications they start to understand we are doing something special at North Star Stone. Clients will bring in a sample of paint, flooring, fabric or window coverings to help create the perfect color of stone. Then we discuss the shape of the stone to create the mood of the room. You don’t get this level customer service at Home Depot, Lowes or most of the specialty stone yards.

 

Schaumburg_stone_veneerNorthbrook_stone_veneer
 

When it comes to installation some potential customers will hire contractors that are a handyman and assure the client they can lay the stone. Just make sure they know the proper methods of preparing the work surface and use the proper adhesive. (Yes, the DIY’er can install the stone but the trick is taking your time).

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Our masons have been laying stone for many years and typically only lay stone with a focus on stone veneer. The skill the masons bring to the project includes blending the proper color, shape, texture and size in a pattern that is random, not in a straight line and is not splotchy.  Each mason has a slightly different way of laying stone and that is why no two fireplaces will ever look the same, but they will all look beautiful when completed by our masons.

Additionally, we pay our masons a fair wage so they can live comfortably, the crews are all insured and a certificate of insurance can always be issued if there is a customer request.

Dry Stack Stone Fireplace 23

 

When you are reviewing your estimates for a fireplace, review our past projects and customer reviews. Did you know that North Star Stone has an A+ rating from the BBB and over 65 FIVE Star Ratings  on Houzz? We are proud of our custom made stone and the men that install the stone and the unusually high level of customer service.

Kildeer Long_Grove

Please call us at 847-996-6850 and let us help you with your next stone project.

 

Renovate Your Home the Eco-Friendly Way

Renovate Your Home the Eco-Friendly Way

eco-friendly-homes Home Improvements Stone Exteriors

Green is all the rage, and the good news is that many eco-friendly approaches can actually help you save that green … money, folks. Money. If you’re looking to do the environment a solid and pad out your wallet at the same time, the following tips will help you do just that.

 

1. Leave Asbestos Alone

Asbestos, a mined mineral that forms in microscopic threads, is incredibly dangerous to human health, causing multiple kinds of cancer. It was used extensively in the middle of the last century, and still exists in many homes built before the 1980s. You should be incredibly careful with asbestos when doing any home renovations; in fact, it’s recommended you just leave it where it is to avoid disturbing it and releasing the damaging shards into the air.

The good news is that there are many renovations that don’t involve exposing asbestos. For instance, when you apply exterior stone to your house, you don’t have to rip out any existing walls, insulation or facades. Instead, all you do is attach the stone to the front of the house, leaving everything underneath intact. This is also a great way to save money.

 

2. Buy Low-VOC Paints

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that not only lead to cancer, they make the air more toxic for plants and wildlife and get into groundwater, damaging our aquifers, rivers and oceans. While in previous decades paint contained high levels of VOCs, you can now find many low-VOC options, especially good for homes that contain children and not costing any more than regular paint.

 

 

3. Use Eco-Friendly Stone Veneer

Whether you’re outfitting an exterior chimney with some lovely red or gold fireplace stone, or revamping the entire outside of your home with new stone veneer, it’s important to ensure it’s the eco-friendly kind. Source your stone from a company that mines responsibly, uses a minimum of chemicals in making the stone aggregate, and avoids removing exterior walls – which, as stated above, can expose asbestos and other toxic chemicals.

Stone veneer is also more eco-friendly than other kinds of stone in that it requires no renovation to the existing home. While real stone requires a brick ledge on which to rest, exterior stone needs none. Plus, it can be applied to any surface, saving you time and money on preparing the underlying layer before application.

 

4. Landscape with Water-Wise Plants

Water is an increasingly critical resource, and everyone should use as little of it as possible. One of the ways you can do this is to plant species that adapt to your area, tolerate drought and don’t require constant watering during dry months. Succulents, grasses and herbs are all excellent options, and you can ask your neighborhood nursery about tips for others that will thrive in your climate.

succulents

 

5. Choose Eco-Friendly Roofing Options

While lots of shingles and other roofing options use unhealthy glues, chemicals and toxins that run off into your yard and leach into groundwater, you aren’t limited to such options. Instead, you can explore eco-friendly roofing options such as recycled shingles, wood shakes, clay tiles, metal roofing and even green roofs – which feature living plants and succulents adapted to your particular climate.

The latter approach makes excellent use of water and helps the bees out by providing the flowering plants they love. Any approach other than the conventional will be better for the world, though.

Mother Earth does a lot for us; isn’t it time you did something for her as well? Truthfully choosing a few eco-friendly ways to approach home renovations isn’t rocket science, and given it can save you money in the long run, is just the smart thing to do.